In this modern world, yoga seems to be the magical cure for all our troubles – physical ailments, mental and emotional traumas, and maybe even the answer to our spiritual enquiry. However, in my humble opinion, yoga is definitely more hard work than magic.
Indeed, I've had the privilege of experiencing the wonders of a practice in my own yoga journey, but I must say this privilege did not come easy at all. I guess anyone who tried yoga before would agree that the postures were very difficult to learn as a beginner, as was trying to learn how to breathe while at it. Just as I thought I was about to grasp both of that, I had to learn to flow with the breath with ease. Finding the self-discipline to wake up in the wee hours of the morning six times a week, was also something I had to get myself used to just so I could get enough time to improve my own practice. It was a long journey, and it is still a learning process up till today. To me, the practice is never linear, very often there is significant forward and backward movement, but what keeps me going is a strong commitment towards wanting a real change in my life.
And so, I got down to writing this little note, as a reminder to myself of that commitment and to encourage others on this journey – to keep going.
1. Do the asana practice daily
Asanas – a term often confused with the practice of yoga itself, is also only one out of the eight limbs of Patanjali’s yoga. For most of us, we start out first by doing the asana practice. We use the physical practice to wake us up to the body; to its limitations and possibilities. During this process, we seek to develop a strong will and unwavering discipline. It is definitely worth knowing that such attributes are important catalyst for change and growth.
By getting in tune to our bodies through the asanas, the practice sharpens the awareness we have of ourselves and our relationships with the environment around us. When we begin to notice that the possibilities are extending beyond the physical, only then may we have a chance of understanding what Yoga means – way more than just physical benefits.
2. Have faith in the practice
One of my teachers once said to me during the earlier years of my practice to have faith in the practice. Something that left me pondering for a long time - have faith in what? How would practicing a few yoga postures change me?
I believe that faith in the practice is not only trusting that the yoga practice will work for us, but also having the faith that we will develop the inner wisdom to cultivate our practice such that transformation can happen. The yoga practice challenges to awaken us now, rather than meeting some far-off point in the distance where everything will hopefully be okay. And knowing that we all have the potential to change - that, for me, is so empowering.
3. Don’t give up
As with everything else in life, consistency is the key to success. Remember - transformation can only happen if you keep it up over time, regularly.
Quoting a famous saying from Pattabhi Jois: “do your practice and all is coming”. I have absolute faith that personal practice can transform a person. However, it takes real commitment, some level of sacrifice, and a willing heart to change for the better. I believe there is magic in the hard work and heart work. Practice on.
By Merdin Yeoh